I'm having a total mental block (I have a small brain) in regards to how to start this post so I'm just going to start talking at you about Portugal and see how it goes. We left Murcia at 1am and walked with Jake to the bus station for our 1:30 bus into Madrid. We got to the Madrid bus station around 6:30am and took a taxi to the airport because I was worried the metro wouldn't get us to the airport in time for our flight. The taxi driver was a jerkhead and totally charged us too much but I can only yell at a man for so long in Spanish before it's just not worth it anymore. Nothing particularly exciting happened and our 50 minute flight to Porto went smoothly. It was raining when we arrived (I swear the crap weather follows mom around) and we started the walk to our hotel. Can I just say that our bags are suuuuuper heavy? Like, you have to lean in the opposite direction to counterbalance the weight of the bags. It's the best when you can't find your hotel. Some might say the funnest ever.
We made it to our totally adorable hotel - whose only sign to show that it was indeed our hostel was bout 6inx4in right next to the doorbell - and we took a nap, because we were freakin' exhausted. Around 5pm we headed into the city to explore with only a map as a resource. Those who know me are fully aware that I am directionally challenged - I can barely get you from my home in California to the town mall - but in Portugal I earned the title of navigator. I mean it! I was mappin' it up, gettin' in there and gettin' some answers. It was pretty awesome if you ask me. Suffice it to say that I fell in love with Porto that first night. The monastery, the bridge, the river, the cathedrals, the cobblestone streets, all of it. Naturally I was also really fascinated by the language, a mix of what seems to be Spanish, German and French, with a totally Slavic pronunciation. Sounds terrifying but I mean I kinda wanna learn it... what can I say, I like a good challenge.
We walked through most of the historic and downtown areas and even made it across the bridge where all the best wine is supposed to be. At that point it was still cold and rainy and getting late so we stopped at a grocery store and got some snacks for the hotel and headed back.
The next morning we walked to the bus station (quite an ordeal) and took the 3.5 hour bus into Lisbon. Let me just say this: Lisbon is beautiful. Truly. But personally, I'll take Porto every time. Lisbon is huge. There are beautiful views of the water all over the city and beautiful parks and sights and it truly is worth a visit, but for me, it's almost too much. I know I sound like Goldilocks, but Porto is juuuust right. Lunch was at a little restaurant outside the castle where a mushroom omelet (it's a common dish i swear) caught my eye. Our kind elderly server secretly wanted to kill me so he brought it out with shrimp instead (the spanish words for the two sound remotely similar, poor guy), but eventually I got a meal that wouldn't kill me and it was delicious! I'd like to note that mom said I could cook better than the people that worked there - not to bash their cooking, she just thinks I'm gettin' good - and we moved on. Oh and also a little fun fact: in Portugal they bring out a couvert before your meal - a sort of appetizer of bread and olives or what have you - and you only pay for what you eat of it! Thankfully our waiter warned us before we were unknowingly charged and forced to work off our debt in the kitchen because I certainly don't have the money. We walked through Lisbon - it was great until we ended up on the wrong street at the wrong time of night with the wrong people - and mom earned the Indian name "firefeet" due to her Charlie Brown-esque walk/run from this area of town. Luckily I have a few inches on her and it's all in my legs so I was able to keep up pretty easily, despite Firefeet's quick pace. We headed home at a decent hour and let everyone at home know we weren't dead, looking forward to more of Lisbon in the morning since we missed a lot the night before.
We were not disappointed, in that regard. We headed straight into the city center after a very basic breakfast at our hostel and found a tour guide willing to show us on a map all the places worth seeing so that we didn't have to actually pay for a guided tour. This man was a lifesaver. As we walked we say the most beautiful views over the water and had to be careful not to get lost in the sights because everywhere around us were buggies and trolleys heading in all directions not really caring whether or not you got out of their way.
After a beautiful day in Lisbon, we headed back to Porto. It seems as though we were not meant to see this beautiful city in the daylight - both times we were there it happened to be later in the day - but it was picturesque nonetheless. Don't let it's beauty fool you, though. It has more hills than even Morgantown - anyone who's been to WVU would know that you can't possibly go to that school and not have decent leg muscles. Leg day every day, as they say. But these hills are cobbled and colorful and totally worth walking up and down and all around. The same cannot be said for Morgantown where God knows you already lack motivation to go to class so the stairs and hills that stand between you and Woodburn are soooo not worth it. We had a wonderful traditional Portuguese dinner - I got a local sausage wrapped in phyllo dough and mom got some sort of codfish casserole (seafood was their specialty - ew) and both were enjoyed immensely. My meal totally won, though. At about 9:30 as we were leaving dinner we realized our hotel had asked that you give notice if you will be arriving late for check in. How late, is late, exactly? W weren't sure but we sure did book it to the metro station, arriving only to find the train we needed rolling ironically and mockingly away and stared in horror as the worker said that the next train in that direction wasn't for another 28 minutes. Suffice it to say mom was losing her marbles thinking we'd be sleeping on the side of the road and it was freakin' hilarious. Fourteen metro stops later we got to the hotel which was right next to the airport. Luckily check in was no problem and there was already someone manning the desk. We got about 3 hours of sleep and then were back at it on the way to the airport after a light breakfast.
On arrival, we saw the security line was literally at least 300 people long and died a little inside knowing that our flight was in an hour and a half. Luckily this is Europe and when you aren't a huge target for terrorists like us lucky Americans, security is pretty lax. We made it through the line with ease and took the 50 minute flight into Madrid. This, my dear friends, is where I leave you, because the rest of this story is in my last post. I do apologize for the bass-ackward-ness of my blog but as you can see, I'm trying to catch up, I promise.
I write this from Chefchaouen, which I will post about very soon I promise! I still have to cover my week in Spain with mom and Las Fallas, which was two weeks ago! Good lord I'm behind...
PS. If you're poor like us, go to a MiniPrecio while in Portugal. We got lunch (bananas and oranges and a liter of water and crackers) for less than a euro. Happy traveling!!
I wrote this blog while living in Spain my second year of college - figured it wouldn't hurt to share.